Review Price £79.99
Bayan Audio 3 - Sound Quality, Value and Verdict
The Bayan Audio 3's speaker arrangement sets it apart from other iPod docks at the price. With just two speaker drivers, each taking on duties at different places along the frequency spectrum, the sound it produces is mono, but the bass driver is much larger than you'd usually see in a unit like this.
5.25in and responsible for the Bayan Audio 3's significant 20cm depth, it takes up most of the unit's mass. It's basically a Hi-Fi subwoofer, shrunk down in size and placed front-and-centre rather than jammed into the corner of a room.
The other driver therefore has a big job ahead of it, responsible for all the upper-mids and treble legwork, it's a 2in driver, with the same neat-looking silver "cone" as the bass speaker. Although clearly a mono setup - itself the standard in devices of this size - Bayan Audio claims it supplies "pseudo stereo", with a "wide stereo effect".
While the Bayan Audio 3 merges the information from the stereo channels successfully enough, any claims of true stereo are clearly not really true - you can't split what's welded together. However, it provides what's actually much more important in a speaker unit of this size: wide dispersion and scale.
Packing stereo speakers into a 30cm-wide frame is certainly possible, but the stereo effect is going to be severely limited anyway. The Bayan Audio 3 instead offers a wide throw of its mono output, able to fill rooms much larger than its small size might indicate.
In terms of scale of sound and maximum volume, the Bayan Audio 3 obliterates most of the similarly-sized competition. It's all down to the large bass driver, which is actually a bit bigger than that of the B&W Zeppelin Air. Impressive, huh?
At middling and high volumes, the benefits of such a large driver are clearly evident. The Bayan Audio 3 simply doesn't suffer from the diminutive "small speaker" sound that sub-3in lead drivers often create. And while it starts to sound strained at top volume, the 2in driver struggling a little, leading to mids becoming harsh - with some distortion evident in the mids and low bass) - it will fill most rooms with ease.
We found the biggest sonic problems cropped-up when the Bayan Audio 3 is quieter, rather than going all-out. At low volumes, the bass tends to dominate, bass guitars sitting on the face of singers in a way that wouldn't affect more traditionally-arrayed audio docks.
You are given decent control over equalisation, though. There are dedicated bass and treble controls on the remote - although none on the dock itself - that let you minimise and completely over-do both. Bayan Audio also provides a couple of presets, dubbed Voice and Music. These are switched-between with yet another button on the remote - lose it, and you're pretty much screwed.
Music mode is a touch on the bassy side, but between 40 and 60 per cent volume provides a remarkably fun and full-sounding tone. Voice mode strips out a lot of the low-end grunt, removing the bass resonance that can crop up when listening to spoken-word content in a low end-centric setup. It also removes most of the problems of bass dominating quiet listening. Unfortunately, manual equalisation has to be done entirely by ear, as there is no display to show you what level bass and treble are currently at.
Like the Bayan Audio 7, some tweaking is required for best results, but if you want a big sound in a small, affordable package, this is a great buy. It even looks pretty good. However, if you're only looking to fill a small room, or just want to listen at low volumes while cooking or chilling out in a bedroom, the Logitech S715i is a more flexible - boasting an internal battery - and easy-going choice.
The Bayan Audio 3 is a little dock capable of producing very big sound. With just two speaker drivers, it's mono but embarrasses many other alternatives at this size and price. It is a beast that needs taming, with bass dominating at times, but the remote gives you control over EQ settings. If you don't plan on upping the volume, you can get more refinement elsewhere, but there's a lot of fun to be had for not much money here.
Scores In Detail
- Sound Quality